Managing Writing Time During NaNoWriMo

I’ve seen a lot of posts around about making time to write, and I know there are people out there who can get a lot from these posts – but for me, it’s not so much finding time to write as finding time for other things while writing, specifically during times like these – basically, what I’ll call ‘NaNo season’, which, depending on whether you want to tie Script Frenzy in or not, is April or June 1st to November 30th, plus the aftermath and the time spent preparing beforehand if you do any prep-work, where I personally focus a lot on writing. I’m using NaNo season to get a story I’ve been working on and off on since November 2009, myself, but that’s a post for another time. During all of the hype about writing during this time, it’s easy to forget, at least for me, that there are other things I need to get done.

Writing is basically the center of my activities in life right now – aside from spending time with my lovie, it’s probably what I do the most out of all of my usual activities. But how, when I have the ability to bend all of my other things with my schedule, do I make sure I give myself time to do things important to me other than writing? A lot of the time, I find myself getting caught up in writing and not finishing other things that I either need to get done or would benefit from finishing, but I do have ways of managing my time so I can get all of that writing in and still finish the other things I need.

It’s generally a matter of knowing that while writing is a very important thing in my life, I can’t neglect the people and other things that I love. When it comes down to it, the people I care about are more important than getting as much writing as possible done. When someone needs me, I won’t force myself not to be there for them because of writing – that’d be ridiculous. I make sure to keep in contact with everyone, and to spend time with them, as well. I may love writing, but it’s not as important as these people are to me – it’s a matter of keeping your head balanced and knowing that you need to make time for other things and for the people who matter to you.

I make sure to give myself times that I dedicate as a whole to writing, to assure myself that I get it done, but give myself time to also nurture the other parts of my life, such as my relationships and hobbies. When I know there’s an event that may take away from my writing time, I give myself a little bit of extra-time the days beforehand so that I can make up for writing missed, and generally write a little bit more than necessary to hit my month’s goal anyways per day just in case.

I give myself a daily goal for my writing – I personally aim to finish at least one entry of my story and hit a certain word count while I’m at it, and I split that word-count in half, giving myself two separate sessions of writing, where I don’t stop until I reach at least that half-count. As I mentioned in my Camp NaNoWriMo plan post, I’m doing these sessions with a friend, and try to stop when he does rather than keep going until I’m burnt out if I can’t rip myself away after I personally hit the goal. I try to keep these sessions separate, and spend the time in-between doing the things I need to get done outside of writing.

Some things I use as a writing reward when I hit my half-count. For example, I let myself catch up a little on my reading when I finish my first writing session, and go on with the other things I need to catch up on after I finish with that, mainly art and schoolwork. I take my tests, which a bulk of my schoolwork is due to my homeschooling system, once a week, usually doing one on either Tuesday or Thursday, and spend extra time working on sketching or doodling, while going with my schedule and working on my paintings after I hit my daily weekend word goal on Saturday/Sunday nights.

I reserve two parts of the day to hit certain writing goals, and use the rest of the day to deal with the other things I need to finish up on, which can be applied to tighter schedules as well with some adjusting, perhaps to free-time or waking up earlier/going to bed a bit later or any other way that you’re comfortable adjusting it. Since I have a more flexible day, I give myself bigger goals (2,000 words per day in the week, 840 words per day on weekends, 1,000 words per weekday session and 840 in a sitting on weekends) and only break it into two blocks, but it’s a matter of preference and how much time you want or need to set aside for other things.

Now, there are more things here than getting other types of work done – yes, I’m talking about the social life (that term doesn’t really rub me the right way. It sounds a bit standoffish for some reason). That’s a bit simple for me – again, I have free-time that is flexible, mainly during weekdays, so I make my plans beforehand and give myself more time to write around the days before so that I’ll be able to make up for words and goals missed.

Since I’m giving myself a weekly reward for writing, I also use that as an opportunity to do things with friends – in this case, I’m going to be watching movies each Sunday this month, mostly with my writing partner, but there will be times that I invite some other friends to spend that time with me, one example being my birthday – since it falls on a Sunday, I’m going to write a little extra the day before and spend the entire day as a ‘reward day’ rather than just take a little block of time to watch a movie as reward, inviting all of my friends to essentially spend the day having fun. Using writing reward-time as a time to keep up with friends/family is, for me, a good method, so long as I make sure to set aside reward-time as time that they can work with as well.

How has NaNo season been going for you all?

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2 thoughts on “Managing Writing Time During NaNoWriMo

  1. I’m working at it rather sporadically, though it’s more to see how much I can get done on a story I’ve been wanting to finish for a while, rather than specifically to win NaNo. It’s been interesting- at times I struggle to get any words on the paper at all, and other times I’ll just write until I burn out because the words are coming and I don’t want to lose them. So hitting a balance between writing and complete obsession is tricky :)

    • I’m more using NaNo as a tool to finish an old story, myself. For some reason, participating in the event motivates me a little more to work on it and actually get the work done, haha. Getting that balance is always a little tricky, at least for myself. xP

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